THERE are free ways to protect your computers and mobile devices but the best antivirus suites are those you have to pay for.
This is because they not only offer the highest level of protection from malware, malicious websites and phishing scams, they also bundle in a whole host of extras.
These include password managers, file encryption tools, secure browsers and VPNs.
Which internet security and antivirus is the best?
Our list of the best antivirus suites has been chosen based on a range of test results compiled by AV Test – an independent IT-security group based in Germany.
This group regularly tests the best antivirus protection software on existing, and next-level threats, and publish its results throughout the year.
All the solutions listed below protect Windows and Mac, while some will additionally protect your Android or iOS devices.
1. Bitdefender Total Security 2020
- Bitdefender’s Total Security £34.99, covers five devices for one year – buy here
Bitdefender’s antivirus suites often appear at the top of the best antivirus lists and for good reason.
They’re easy to install, have effective virus protection, along with easy-to-use interfaces, and are packed with features beyond just antivirus software.
They also come in a range of prices. The best of the bunch this year is Bitdefender Total Security.
It supports Windows 7 through 10, as well as offering protection licences for Mac, Android and iOS, and comes with a whole host of added extras.
These include a file shredder, password manager, secure browser and a VPN, file encryption, parental controls, webcam protection and a two-way firewall.
In tests, ran between February to June last year, the software blocked 99 per cent of threats, falling short on blocking the odd infected or phishing website.
It did, however, manage to block the malware these sites tried to install.
Plus, it does all this while having a minimal impact on the overall performance of the system.
2. Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2020
- Bitdefender Antivirus Plus £19.99 covers three devices for one year – buy here
If you don’t want all the bells and whistles of Bitdefender’s Total Security package, its Antivirus Plus software offers great value for money with similar features included.
It supports Windows 7 through 10 but doesn’t offer Mac or mobile protection.
It comes with the same file shredder, password manager, secure browser and a VPN, but doesn't have the file encryption, nor the parental controls and webcam protection.
Because it’s part of the same suite of products, the virus-hunting ability is the same.
For the price, this offers a fantastic balance of protection and performance.
3. Norton Security Premium
- Norton Security Premium £39.99, covers 10 devices for one year – buy here
Offering a similar range of features as Bitdefender, albeit with a little less protection, Norton’s Security Suite is a decent package for a decent price.
Its top-tier Norton Security Premium is the pick of the bunch.
It supports a wider range of operating systems than Bitdefender's suite – from Windows XP thru Windows 10, – and all but the cheapest solution includes bundled protection for Mac, Android and iOS.
All of Norton's Antivirus and Security products offer browser extensions and a password manager but only Norton Security Premium (and the slightly cheaper Deluxe) have a two-way firewall and web management portal.
On top of this, Premium then adds backup software, online storage, and parental controls.
In the same tests as Bitdefender between February and June 2018, Norton’s antivirus software found and resolved 97 per cent of threats, meaning it fell a little short of its rival’s 99 per cent.
Following tests carried out later in the year, however, from September to October, Norton blocked every threat with few false positives.
A nice feature of Norton’s suite is that it will upload suspicious new files to Norton's cloud labs for analysis.
This is optional but will help train the software for future threats.
It also protects double the number of devices for only a tenner more than Bitdefender’s Total Security package.
4. Kaspersky Total Security
- Kaspersky Total Security £44.99, covers five devices for a year – buy here
Performing almost on par with Bitdefender in certain tests (98 per cent), and achieving perfect scores in others, is Kaspersky’s security suite.
It supports Windows 7 through 10 and comes in four flavours: Kaspersky Free, Kaspersky Internet Security, Kaspersky Total Security and Kaspersky Security Cloud.
We’ve chosen Total Security as the best of the bunch.
All offer basic anti-malware for Windows but only Internet Security and Total Security will additionally protect your Mac, Android and iOS while offering a virtual keyboard, anti-spam features, parental controls, a secure browser, two-way firewall, VPN, webcam protection and backup software.
Total Security then bundles in file encryption, a file shredder and password manager.
Features and protection-wise, little separates Total Security from Kaspersky’s new cloud-based offering, but the latter only works when you’re online so could prove limiting.
All products let you pick and choose how many devices, and for how long, you want to be protected, which is a welcome touch not offered by its rivals.
5. Trend Micro
- Trend Micro Internet Security £24.95, covers three devices for one year – buy here
Trend Micro offers three different options when it comes to antivirus solutions.
The most basic one is called Antivirus+ Security and it is for Windows only, but if you are a Microsoft user and are looking for a simple but effective solution, this one's for you.
The program has a user-friendly interface with a few but important functions, including tough real-time defences and Folder Shield, an automated anti-ransomware system. However good though, Antivirus+ Security only offers protection for one device.
The second option from Trend Micro is Internet Security, extending protection to three devices and adding interesting extra features such as social networking protection.
The highest tier package from Trend Micro is called Maximum Security, and in addition to providing internet protection to up to 10 devices, it also introduces versions for Mac, Android and iOS devices.
Trend Micro Maximum Security also features a dedicated password manager and secure file vault.
6. Avast Premium Security
- Avast Antivirus £74.99, covers ten devices for one year – buy here
Avast Antivirus is mostly known for its free software. For years the company has been providing one of the best free antivirus options in the world.
However, Avast also offers some interesting paid options.
Supporting Windows, iOS, Android and Mac devices, Avast Premium Security comes in three different flavours, and as you go up with the price, so do your security features.
Generally speaking, Avast Premium Security provides many more scan options than most of its competitors. The scans are fast and accurate too.
Another interesting option included in the paid versions is Avast's Ransomware Shield, allowing users to prevent ransomware or untrusted apps from modifying their system without permission.
Avast Premium Security's other features include a Software Updater that can automatically detect software patches for you, a password manager and even a Sandbox created to run potentially malicious software without endangering user machines.
All in all, Avast Premium Security in an interesting option for those looking at an extremely high number of customisation options. The high price, however, is hard to ignore when looking at equally valid and cheaper alternatives like Bitdefender and Norton.
7. Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus
- Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus £24.83, covers three devices for one year – buy here
Arguably the lightest antivirus there is, Webroot SecureAnywhere only takes up 15 MB of hard disk space and installs in seconds.
The basic version of the software is available for both Windows and Mac machines, and keeps its memory footprint to a minimum by having its virus definitions stored in the cloud as opposed to most antivirus programs that keep them locally.
With solid malware protection and blazing fast virus scans, it is only a matter of time before Webroot's software starts challenging the big names in the antivirus arena.
Webroot also offers an Internet Security Plus version that expands coverage to mobile devices and adds a password manager provided by LastPass, and an Internet Security Complete option adding to the program extra security features and an automatic backup tool.
Unsure whether you should give Webroot a shot? The company has a 70-day 100% money-back guarantee. What are you waiting for?
How do I choose an antivirus?
You can choose to get free antivirus software, but the best options will be premium protectors.
Our rankings have been produced using ratings from Germany-based review company, AV-test.
You're in safe hands with any of the options on our list, but you can check out their site for more recommendations.
You can also find some great ratings at Which? Magazine.
Which Internet security and antivirus is the best?
Currently, the top dogs on AV-Test are McAfee and Kapersky, who score top marks across the board for performance, usability and protection.
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Enjoyed our roundup of the best antivirus software? Then be sure to have a look at our pick of the best laptops of 2020, too.
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